Decatur gun buyback buy back
Image by Boch
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Decatur, Illinois held a much-publicized gun buyback last week. While the event took place on April 2nd, it turned out to be a late April Fool’s joke for well over 100 pepople still in line after the event’s staff ran out of cash for a second time in just over an hour.

We reported on the “Community Day of Peace” event a couple of weeks ago and the generous amounts being offered to “buy back” firearms in the central Illinois city.

While the event’s organizers went back on their pledge to buy magazines over market prices, they did follow through on the other aspects of the event including buying pistols for $225 each. At least they did for the first 75 minutes of the scheduled four-hour extravaganza.

The event was billed to run from 2:00p to 6:00p. It began with a sparsely attended “march” by fewer than thirty people, escorted by police.

Image by Boch.

At the church that hosted the event, organizers had free food, drinks and music. Under a big tent, there were informational booths that were pretty much ignored by most.

Image by Boch.

Once the marchers arrived at the parking lot, a number of people spoke, lamenting so-called “gun violence” in the Decatur community. I didn’t hear a single word mentioned about gang violence.

Meanwhile, gun owners seeking to take advantage of Decatur’s largesse (reportedly provided by billionaire Warren Buffet’s middle son Howard Buffet) poured in left and right.  Before the official 2:00pm start time, nearly 200 people stood in a line that snaked upwards of two blocks around the property and through the vacant lot used for parking next door.

Unfortunately, things ground to a halt twenty minutes into the event as organizers quickly ran out of cash after not even two dozen people converted their “unwanted” guns for big bucks. Initially, the sponsors floated the idea of issuing IOUs, but at about 2:45, they received a fat bank bag of more brand new, crisp $50 bills and the fun resumed.

Image by Boch.

When I got inside with my bag of goodies, I was met by a very kind, professional and affable gent who knew his way around firearms. The couple ahead of me had five guns.  The police brass stood around watching, and griped, “and they wonder why we ran out of money so soon,” apparently referring to the initial pause after they ran out of cash the first time.

Interestingly, before entering, the male half of the couple ahead of me joked that his lovely bride shouldn’t show them the NRA logo tattooed just above her butt. He teased her that event sponsors might turn them (and their guns) away if they knew they were bitter clingers. I didn’t get to see that tat, but thought it amusing nevertheless.

Meanwhile, I brought five handguns, including a non-firing .22 Derringer, two break-top .32s and a pair of well-worn, obsolete Kel-tecs that nobody wanted to buy used for $140 each a few months ago. The guy checking me in took all of them without question, but turned down a genuine “ghost gun”…a bare-bones AR receiver that a ghost gun machine had butchered. I mentioned it was a genuine “ghost gun” and he just chuckled. “I know. I get it and understand. But they’re not gonna pay ya for it.”

Fair enough. I brought it back home.

As he checked over my junk, the young guy and his girlfriend behind me opened his Daniel Defense-branded AR carrying case. Inside he had 13 almost broken-down beaters. The police brass who had just bemoaned the guy with five guns groaned aloud. More than once.

After hemming and hawing for a few minutes, they took them all. The young guy in his 20s had at least a couple of .25s, several .32s and a bunch of other stuff that I’m sure he collected from his friends. He left with $2,925 in a plain white envelope. Enough for at least a couple of boxes of 50-round 9mm FMJs.

I learned a lot even before getting inside. I had retired cops all around me standing in line to participate. Some even admitted to turning in guns they “took off” bad guys during their policing days in the 70s and 80s. Maybe they were just bragging or maybe they were selling their “throw down” pieces. Who knows? Either way, these weren’t guns used by or headed for the contemporary criminal community.

Others had come from as far south as Effingham and St. Louis to the south and the Chicago suburbs to the north. I met at least three FFLs and a few other people who worked at gun shops.

While Alexandria Occasional Cortex might have looked at the crowd and seen a bunch of deplorables, I have to say that the Community Church of God in Decatur was easily the safest place in Macon County that afternoon.

And that’s not counting the scores of cops from three or four jurisdictions present in some capacity or another. There were at least six or eight cops in the money room where they took us, one at a time to receive our Grants, Jacksons and assorted other presidents.

To the LEOs’ credit, they didn’t eyeball me and my 2-year-old twin boys like we were planning an Oceans 11 heist. Even though like most in line, I was armed with (loaded) guns I wasn’t “selling” back.

Approximately twenty minutes after I left, at about 3:15, or after less than an hour of actively taking guns, the sponsors ran out of cash for good. At that point, they closed down the “buy back” aspect of the event and sent scores of people who were waiting in a block-and-a-half long line away disappointed.

The Decatur Herald and Review happily spun the narrative presented by the local police:

Sydnee Sturdivant was one of many looking to safely get rid of unwanted firearms.

Looking out for those in the city where she was born and raised, the 27-year-old Decatur resident saw Friday’s Decatur Community Day of Peace as a step in the right direction.

“I just think it’s important that we try to get the guns off the streets,” Sturdivant said. “I’m thankful they’re doing something like this to at least show the community they’re trying to do something.”
Decatur’s Community Day of Peace on Friday started at 2 p.m. and was scheduled to last until around 6 p.m.

Anyone could turn in an unloaded gun for cash, no questions asked, and the transaction wouldn’t require identification. Around 3:30 p.m. a line circling the Community Church of God’s parking lot began to dissipate as the $40,000 donated to the buyback event was nearly spent. 
Decatur Police Chief Jim Getz said the turnout was beyond what event organizers had expected. An estimated 230 semi-automatic pistols and shotguns and several rifles had been purchased, Getz said as the event drew to a close.

“As the event drew to a close?” Really?

In the days ahead of the event, the Decatur Police told people who called that they were going to have “plenty of cash” to buy back guns. In the end, they ran out of money before they filled even a quarter of the demand.

Hopefully they will do this again soon.

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  1. This will never happen in West Virginia, but I’ve got several “beaters” to unload too if it ever did. These people either have access to too much money or they really want to help turn clunkers to cash to buy better guns and ammo.

    • –> “buying pistols for $225 each”

      Nice. I could make some money off that. Enough money to buy more pistols. Good ones too!

      I see a hi-point in the pile. Along with those $120 22LR revolvers. I feel a little bad for all the top-break revolvers in there, because they are so old (>100 years). But they look a little scraggly anyways. Probably non-functional.

  2. Kinda like ‘buy backs’ now. Kinda.

    They know the majority of people in line are there to take advantage of everyone’s stupidity.

    And of course they talked about ‘gun violence’ and not gang violence.

      • Actually, if they are destroying the guns with no questions asked, it is a good way to dispose of guns already used to commit crimes.

  3. Chicago is going to have to up their game to keep up with Decatur for John and these guns life people. What a great cause!

  4. Oh my goodness — I just realized that I can buy brand-new Heritage Rough-Rider single-action revolvers in .22 LR for around $150 and that event was buying revolvers for $225. The obvious temptation is to purchase as many brand-new Rough Rider revolvers as possible and then “turn them in” for $225 at that event. I wonder how many other people realized that and actually did it?

    (For reference I think I can see what looks like a brand-new Heritage Rough Rider revolver in the photo that is included with this article — which inspired my comment above.)

    • It’d almost be worth the trip
      Cept I never go north of Tulsa these days
      But with that profit it’d be worth it I think

  5. John,

    Excellent article. I was there from the NW suburbs and heard about most of what you covered. I hadn’t heard about the guy with 13 guns. You gotta love it! I had 4 junkers, and the couple behind me had 6 between them.

    One small nitpick: I think your timeline is a bit off. I was live-texting the process to my father. I entered the church at 3:45, and walked out at 3:52 after recounting the money a couple of times. I talked to a few people on the way to my car and then drove past a couple of times finding my way out of town. They shut down sometime between 4:02 and 4:05 by the timestamps on my texts.

    • Good friend was (way) behind me in line. He said it shut down around 3:15. That was my timeline…

      Here’s another participant’s story:

      I did attend the Decatur Cash For Guns.
      Got there about 15 minutes early and there were about 70 people in line already.
      When they closed it down (out of money) there were at least 150 behind me, the line reached around behind a tent so there may have been more.
      Most people had single shot shot guns and old clunker revolvers.
      The line didn’t start moving until about 2:15 and was very slow. I made it to the door after about 2 hours.
      I did see a few nice pump shotguns and double barrels. The States Attorney (Scott Reutter) was there to observe and said he saw some very nice handguns that had been turned in. One person said they saw a Garand in the pile.
      Prices paid were $350 for ‘assault rifles’ (didn’t see anything that fit that media description). A guy brought a semi automatic 22 rifle (Marlin 60?) with a scope and they wouldn’t take it.
      Shot guns were $75, not bad for the rough looking single shots I saw and Revolvers and semi-auto handguns were $225 each-a great deal for an old top break, spur trigger revolver or cheap 25ACP.
      I was the LAST person in the door. They gave me $225 each for 3 old pistols and $215 for another because they were out of money. ($40,000 total)
      They had a couple of officers checking out the guns to be sure they were unloaded and in operating condition. I had revolver missing the firing pin and they would not take it. Also had a combination blank/22 revolver that will shoot live ammo but they would not take it either.
      From the guns I saw about 3/4 of the people got a good deal. Of the rest about half got close to market price and the other half got screwed.
      They were taking about having another one in the future. If it happens will be interesting to see if prices and guns accepted will remain the same.

      • I bet they could get even MORE evil guns off the streets if they doubled or tripled the money! Wouldn’t that be great?! There must be special schools in the area that teach advanced stupid.

  6. “Interestingly, before entering, the male half of the couple ahead of me joked that his lovely bride shouldn’t show them the NRA logo tattooed just above her butt. He teased her that event sponsors might turn them (and their guns) away if they knew they were bitter clingers. I didn’t get to see that tat, but thought it amusing nevertheless.”


    I woulda asked to see it.

    Her and the hubby might have been into threesomes… 😉

  7. Noice! Sadly I have no gats I’d sell for $225 or even $325. Too hard to replace…don’t be so sure people don’t get shot by 32″s & 25’s. Why do you think there’s comparatively few deaths in Chiraq when 15 get shot but only 1 or 2 die?!? Quite the kerfuffle protesting a THIRTEEN year old shot in a “gunfight” with cop’s at 2AM last weekend. Mamacita had no explanation why little miho was gangbanging so late…

  8. A gun buy back, paying with IOUs?
    Sounds like something from the movie “Dumb & Dumber”.

  9. So it’s essentially a metaphor for the entirety of US government at this point. That’s not comforting.

    But I’d be willing to take other forms of payment. BTC and ETH would be acceptable in my book.

      • 20% ain’t nothing to sneeze at.

        Tezos is pretty cool for being off by itself but I’m not sure I trust something with that large of a supply. But dafuq do I know, 20% in a day is 20% in a day and that’s not bad for volatility like you see in this area.

        Decentra, IIRC, is an ETH fork. I’m curious to see how all of the forking works out. The differences in price between BTC, BSV, BTG and BCH don’t make a hell of a lot of sense to me. But whatever, I’m just along for the ride I guess.


  10. So if you had or procured a few blank guns, and you presented them stock or possibly modified . . . I think that has a chance of working. Those can be had for about 50.00 USD. Would that even be fraud as it is a gun and many of the “guns” that were turned in did not actually work? I am sure many were turned in with the owners not even knowing if they worked or not. So you are looking at about $175.00 profit for blank guns and over 200.00 for one of these:

  11. Soooo, no M-240’s, M2’s, Mk-19’s or other legitimate weapons of war then? What a shame 😉 .

  12. The streets in Decatur, Illinois will be so much safer without those nonfunctional century-old Iver Johnsons and rusty old Sears Roebuck single shot shotguns lurking out there

  13. Sounds like I was okay not getting my Big Point frames 3d printed then. Maybe next time. I would have liked to traded those in for a few more kits admittedly.

  14. “As he checked over my junk…”

    Hey now, this is a family-friendly blog, Mr. Frisky.
    Simmer down now.

  15. Buy back, Just exactly what was it you sold me?
    “Hey, I never seen you before in my life but I’d buy back your gunms. “

  16. Solid way to sell junk. Use their tactics to sell them crap and take “their” money. Even though it’s essentially tax payers money… Nonetheless, worth it. If you have junk guns. No surprise the brass act like, well, brass… Smug cocksuckers. Even more hilarious is the 1% who actually think they are “saving lives” or “helping the community”. The rest of the people are just turning in trash for cash.

  17. I would go into hone depot stroll around to buy parts and make slam fire shotguns to sell back.

  18. Heritage needs to make a gun and call it the “buy back” model. I would love to see how cheap they could do it.

    • If they did that, why would they sell it to you or me? Just dedicate the company jet, and when something like this comes up fly down a thousand, brand new, for the company to “sell back”.

  19. Gee, $225 for a handgun. Back in 2019 you could buy a new Hi-Point for about $175 OTD.

    At those prices, I wonder how many Hi-Points I could buy at one time. Can I get them by the pallet?

  20. As someone in another opinion piece about Buybacks mentioned, “How many guns that may have been used in crimes gets turned in?”
    I don’t think there’ll ever be a satisfactory answer, because the “Powers That Be” really don’t want to answer that question at all.
    Whichever idiot(s) thought $40K was enough to underwrite this “event,” needs their head examined. From the looks of it, there’s a lot of junk in there.
    After my grandfather passed I ended up with what was left of his “collection” of guns (an unscrupulous cousin had talked him out of the really valuable guns before he died). Most were junk when he bought them. 5 or 6 ended up in my chop saw, and were then turned in to the local constabulary (didn’t trust someone pulling an intact one out for a throw down).
    There’s always the claim of success with these Buybacks, but the reality is, most of what’s collected wasn’t really in circulation anyway, so as a crime preventative, it has no real impact.

  21. So the police stood there as 150 people left with guns they assure us will be used in crimes?

    Shows you how full of BS they are.

    Wonder if any actual criminals bothered turning in stolen guns?

    Bloomturd ought to to throw a billion on table and really clean up America’s gun problem.

  22. I’ve been told by a friend that in Chicago, they won’t allow you to leave the “buy-back” with any guns, even if the event runs out of money. That sounds pretty shady to me. It’s basically theft.

    • Well fck that. It is theft. I still dont like the term ” Buy back”. Now if you sold me a gunm and wanted it back youd have to buy it back. But some cop that has never seen me cant buy my gunm back because he never sold it to me in the first place. Sounds like the gov thinks its selling me the gunms, a privalage and not a Right that it can give and take as it pleases.

      • I’m willing to go to their “buy back”, but only if they are willing to pay MY price. I know what my stuff is worth, and what it will cost (at the moment) to replace. I’m not taking $350 for a $3500 rifle.

  23. Curious if they completed form 4473 to document the transactions. Would they also need an FFL to do the background check on the purchaser for each transaction? Wouldn’t want them to take advantage of any loop holes.

    • Ha ha ha. It’s all up to snuff when the law breaks the law. Ever notice how police can make rolling stops and dont need to use turn signals, handicapped parking means reserved for police vehicles, 45 in a 30 doesn’t mean the red and blues have to be on. They do what they want when they want. Shoot your dog,tuff sht, kick theirs, assaulting a police officer . Power of the badge.

  24. i’d have much rather the deuce and a quarter for my 85dollar davis than the fifty i received. but mostly i’m just glad to be rid of it.

  25. Buy Back ,what a joke. Just another way to disarm the citizens. So many that did turn them in had no idea they could get more money for many of the guns they gave away. I do not trust any one in authority in Illinois . Lived there for years and it’s more corrupt than DC.Now when some bad guy breaks into a home in Decatur that just gave away their protection, what are they going to say? I do understand getting rid of junk guns for cash, But a working gun.? A whole nuther story.

  26. I arrived at the Decatur Il. “gunbuyback ” about 1:40 p.m. I ended up being deplorable number 45 or so in line so I got to experience prayers,dancing,speeches, Sally the freakin’ creepy clown,the smell of a noble hog that had been overcooked to a crack-ack-ack-ly crunch…….and last but not least a DJ playing his funkaliciousness hisself……George Clinton and the 1970’s Funk Band Parliament and the song …..Atomic Dog….. in a church parking lot…….Amen….and ……Amen George….bow-wow-wow-yippee-yo-yippee-yay……This was a full-blown one-ring circus/carnival that only lacked a tilt-a-whirl and a bearded lady sword swallower…… A BAD location for a gun buyback I thought…poorly thought out ….poorly executed……lack of parking…….lots of people standing next to a busy four lane road with armloads of uncased and unchecked firearms………..lots of police presence ….but only ONE TABLE to have guns checked in………WHY NOT FOUR TABLES?????? Why wasn’t this done at a public owned facility ???? Civic Center Parking lot??? Progress City Parking Lot north of RCC or one of the defunct former school buildings?? Almost anywhere but a church.
    I turned in two JenningsJ-22 zinc/Zamack jam-o-matics and a Rossi .38 with no finish and a wobbly cylinder….Pure Junk…..BUT!!!!!!! I now feel…………… safer…….. ( and $675.00 richer) . I met some great people in line!! When Decatur Police Chief Getz came out of the church I was almost within touching distance of the porthole of dough (church entry door) Chief says: “Well guys it looks like we’re about out of money….we’ve got enough for 10 to 15 more people.” I turned around and started counting and gave up at 120 because I couldn’t see how many more were behind the hog disaster BBQ tent……….A typical Decatur Illinois goat-ropin’ hoedown……..About 60 people had a good time…. a 120 people or more not so much……I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

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